Dealing With the "Diabetes Police"

Well-intentioned actions from family and friends—watching what you eat, instructing you to test your blood sugar, pressing you to exercise—can easily become overwhelming. Here's help.

Health Monitor Staff
Reviewed by
Philip Levy, MD
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You've probably heard that diabetes can run in families—but diabetes is a family disease in more ways than one.

When you have diabetes, less stress helps. So although you might need help taking the best possible care of yourself, you don't need—or want—to be pushed.

Sometimes it might seem as if your family has joined the "diabetes police," monitoring your every action and calling you out every time they think you are straying from the straight and narrow.

Why do people join the diabetes police?
Often, it's because they are frustrated and scared of what will happen if they don't. They have a perception of how diabetes care is "supposed to be," and it frightens and upsets them when that's not what they see taking place.

How you react to the "police"
Your natural reaction to being pushed may be to dig in your heels and push back; it's simple human nature. That's when taking care of your diabetes can become a battle for control.

It doesn't have to be this way. If you want to get more help—and fewer hassles—from your family, here are some suggestions:

  • Be honest with yourself. Think about how well you are meeting your own standards. If you find lots of room for improvement, you might be seeing some of the things that worry your family.
  • Think of something specific to change. Maybe you want to eat a little healthier, maybe consume less fat. Maybe you want to start walking three or four times a week, or to test your blood sugar level one more time each day. Whatever you most want to change, set a specific goal.

How family can help
Be specific. If you want to cut fat at dinner, for instance, see if your family members could prepare lower-fat dishes or keep high-fat condiments out of the house. The more specific (and realistic) your request, the more likely you are to get what you want and need.

Give thanks for the help you get. Once you feel like you're getting more help and fewer hassles, be sure to show your appreciation. The results can be great: better health today and in the long run. Plus, you'll enjoy closer, stronger connections with some of the most important people in your life.

December 2012